Rapid advances in genetic sequencing have opened up new opportunities for many companies. Blockchain could be the technology that allows you to share genetic information safely around the planet. The South Korean company Macrogen recently announced that it would work with Bigster to develop a platform for sharing genetic information safely.
Pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers could use access to genetic information in very positive ways. There is a huge advantage from having large amounts of human genetic information in an easily accessible form. Due to the sensitive nature of data, it is difficult to create a database that offers both in-depth information and personal privacy.
Macrogen said that it is necessary to protect personal data, "against hacking, security risks and the risk of invasion of privacy." They believe that their platform, "must be enough stable to handle large amounts of data [genetic]. " The risk for a platform that stores huge amounts of genetic information is very real. It would probably be a target for private hackers and also the subject of corporate espionage.
Genetic Information and Big Data
Some technologies are coming to maturity at the same time. Genetic sequencing is incredible on its own, but when combined with the kind of analysis that Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers researchers, the potential for rapid progress in medicine increases. Artificial intelligence can scour huge amounts of data and can find connections between genetics and other diagnostic information in a way that had never been possible before, but create a safe way for analysis to take place in a big challenge .
Macrogen is one of many companies looking for a way to exploit the latent potential of big data for medicine. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has just made a $ 300 million investment in 23andMe, which is an American provider of genetic information. GSK clearly sees the value of access to genetic information, which could be made more efficient through a blockchain-based platform that has global reach.
The platform that Macrogen is about to launch will use a network of authorized consortia or blockchains, so that access can be restricted to authorized parties. The number of people around the world who have sequenced genetics is increasing, with estimates for 2018 reaching around 17 million people. This represents an increase of four times compared to last year.
The Medical Advantages
Macrogen is probably taking advantage of a great opportunity. Estimates place the amount invested by big data in pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical companies this year at over $ 4.5 billion. Easy and secure access to a growing database of genetic material could make this market even more attractive. Blockchain technology offers some unique benefits to patients, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies.
Patients are probably in the best position to take advantage of them, because their genetic information can help improve health care and could be useful for them as well. Blockchain-based registries would allow patients to sell access to genetics for use by anyone interested, provided they met certain information security requirements.
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Indeed, EncrypGen, LunaDNA, Zenome and Nebula Genomics are all working with systems that could incentivize patients who share their genetics with customers. The benefits that an on-demand genetic database would provide to researchers are significant. Quick access to large amounts of quality data would help both university and commercial research in many areas of medicine and could also help doctors diagnose otherwise unseen genetic conditions.
Security is Paramount
The greatest concern from a security point of view is how companies and researchers can ensure that genetic data are kept safe and patient privacy airtight. Limited access to personal data would be a way to achieve this and ensure that a person's genetic data is never linked to their personal information, such as names and addresses.
Blockchain could store genetic data in a way that would allow researchers to access the necessary parts of a person's medical history, but not to anything that could help identify them personally. Blockchain could also ensure that a person has been paid for the use of his data, so that they can participate in the profits that a pharmaceutical company would derive from the research that genetic data would allow.